In "If There’s a Red Wave Election in 2018, This Will Be Why," Christopher Buskirk, publisher of the frothing pro-Trump journal, American Greatness, sketches the unimaginable — a word that should be retired from the English language. After Trump, nothing in American politics is unimaginable. Thus Buskirk's essay in Trumpian nationalism as the path to Republicans' 2018 victory is a dreadful glimpse into the possible.
"Red Wave Election" should be read by Democrats and NeverTrumpers as Mein Kampf should have been read by all Germans of human decency. Buskirk employs code words and phrases — "Americans as a community characterized by fraternal bonds"; "Issues of citizenship and solidarity"; "to be an American [means] the essential fraternity of the nation"; "When [Trump] speaks off the cuff, he talks about 'we,' 'us' and 'our'" — that are terms of exclusion, of "taking the country back," of Trump's white nationalism as a political program. Nowhere does Buskirk include women, blacks or Hispanics as part of our "fraternal bonds" or national "solidarity." We "get it."
If you don't get it, Buskirk also employs explicitness. "The three-legged stool of the new Republican majority is a pro-citizen immigration policy, a pro-worker economic policy and a foreign policy that rejects moral imperialism and its concomitant foreign wars. John Adams described just such a foreign policy when he wrote that America is 'the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all' but 'the champion and vindicator only of her own.'"
The phrases "pro-citizen immigration policy" and "pro-worker economic policy" could have been penned by a certain demagogue aiming at the vote of the German petite bourgeoisie, the electoral backbone of national socialism. As for the John Adams quote, here is another instance of pseudoconservatism's historical ignorance. Adams was merely following Washington's sage guidance — that America of the post-Revolutionary era was yet too young and too poor and too weak to become embroiled in foreign disputes; we would maintain a meticulous neutrality out of prudence. But things have, ahem, changed a bit since then.
In Buskirk's view a policy of neo-isolationism "allows Republicans to focus on forming good citizens and restoring a sense of Americanism that relies upon strong ties of fellowship and belief in a shared destiny." One that is manifest, or perhaps a thousand years in duration? Buskirk fails to enlighten. He does lightly remind us, though, that "the promise of 2016’s revolt against ruling-class misrule" was propelled by a "grass roots" movement whose "shared destiny" was decidedly colorless and overwhelmingly "Christian."
In Trump-love, the author outdoes himself in this passage: "There is a renewed emphasis on addressing America and Americans as a community characterized by fraternal bonds and mutual responsibility. Mr. Trump tapped into this…. Issues of citizenship and solidarity — that is to say, asking what it means to be an American — have returned to the fore…. That’s why Mr. Trump’s rhetoric works…. He has said repeatedly that we love our farmers, our police, our flag and our national anthem — even our coal miners…. It speaks to the essential fraternity of the nation, but when Mr. Trump says it … too many people don’t believe that they are included in the 'our.'"
That's because Trump's rhetoric is exclusively, strategically aimed at farmers, the police, coal miners and unkneeling national anthemites — at precisely those mostly white groups, none others. Buskirk's mission is to bamboozle the periphery into the fold.
Tactically, Buskirk is counting on a threefold combination of "scandal fatigue" — "there is almost no crime of which Mr. Trump is not regularly accused"; he is getting "a raw deal" — President Obama's vibrant economy and the menacing prospect of Democrats' impeachment hand-wringing to bring voters to the Republican cause.
Likewise, we must remember three things: Those who regularly turn out in midterms (and those who don't), the hideous appeal of Trump's demagoguery, and that nothing in American politics is any longer unimaginable.